As winter progresses, snow will often settle on a polytunnel, creating a layer of the white stuff. This snowy blanket has both advantages and disadvantages. So should you always knock off the snow? If you do need to get rid of it, how should you do so? Let’s take a look at this winter polytunnel problem:
Should I Always Get Rid Of Snow From A Polytunnel?
It is important to realise that snow on your polytunnel roof is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, snow can help to insulate your polytunnel and protect the plants inside from hard freezes. A soft accumulation of fresh snow can create a fully layer on top of the plastic can make it warmer inside your polytunnel. It will act in much the same way as an igloo, which protects Inuit peoples from the extreme cold, or a snow shelter for stranded mountaineers. Sometimes, it will be a good idea to leave a fresh accumulation of snow overnight in order to take advantage of the insulation it provides.
If one or more of the following is true, you may wish to hold off on clearing off that protective layer:
- A hard frost and extremely cold temperatures are forecast over night.
- Ice storms or hail are forecast in the immediate future.
- Strong icy blasts are due to blow in shortly.
However, snow on your polytunnel can also put strain on the structure. While fresh snow can be fluffy and relatively light, too much snow can stress the plastic covering and an intense accumulation could be too much for the structure. If the snow freezes onto your polytunnel, the plastic can be damaged. So if snow settles for too long, or is too heavy, it is best to remove it. A thick layer of snow on your polytunnel can also be a disadvantage when it is blocking too much light from plants growing inside it. Light levels can be a problem in winter at the best of times, so snow will often have to be removed when it has remained for too long and is keeping what little daylight there is from growing winter crops.
If one of the following is true, it is probably best to get rid of the snow in spite of the insulative advantages:
- Lots more heavy snow is forecast.
- There is already a particularly heavy accumulation of snow on your polytunnel.
- The snow has remained for several days.
How To Get Rid of Snow on a Polytunnel
If you do decide that the snow has to go, the good news is that this is a problem that is usually very easy to deal with. The sun warming the snow will often cause it to slip off naturally before it becomes a problem. Where it does not:
- Gently push on the inside of a smaller polytunnel to dislodge the snow that has settled above.
- Increase heating inside the polytunnel and it will melt off.
- Carefully take a long-handled broom or window cleaning brush and knock the snow off your polytunnel.
- On a larger tunnel, gently run a rope held by two people over the top to dislodge the accumulation. This is usually enough to dislodge any stubborn snow that still clings after using one of the other methods.
A winter polytunnel can still be a productive place. Make sure you don’t neglect it. How is your polytunnel doing this winter? Let us know in the comments below.
Originally posted 2016-01-18 10:00:54.
Sean Barker is the MD of First Tunnels, and is enthusiastic about providing quality gardening supplies to gardeners across the UK